What do you guys do at work when there's no work to be done?

My situation:

I work a semi-flexible 9-5gig in the IT dept of a huge national specialty store. The nature of my work usually means that all the important stuff I have to do is done as soon as I come into work or late, late in the afternoon (usually meaning that I stay late and work overtime).

This creates a huge vacuum where in a typical day I have a good 4-5 hours where I’m getting paid to look semi-busy.

I’d like to spend my time doing something constructive but I’ve been having a hard time keeping interest at the task at hand. I’ve been spending time going through the compay on-line learning portal but since I’m a few layers removed from directly touching the Database or the Network, it’s been hard to stay motivated to brush up on my SQL and Oracle skills.

So…what would you guys do in this situation?

Try and beat the internet… or just go home.

The proper advice would probably be to ask what does the job mean to you. Is it in a company that you want to advance in or are you looking for something else to be your ‘lifetime’ work.

If the job matters to you, those extra hours could be time spent trying to advance. Studying other (in your case) langauges or certifications to build yourself into an asset either within the company or for other job offers. Even consultation could open up.

If the job doesn’t really matter to you think why it doesn’t and what you want to do and if you already figured out that shit and are just waiting on other parts of your life, enjoy a hobby if it’s allowed. Reading for example, or studying on whatever other interests are. Shit, play games if they let you.

I had a similar situation when I used to work as a sysadmin. The workload was so erratic and could hit so suddenly that I never pre-scheduled a lot of projects. So if no emergencies hit, I had a lot of free time. That free time is a wonderful opportunity if used right.

What I did with the free time was to learn new technical skills by assigning myself study projects that I totally lacked the skills for. Then I had to study hard to make the project progress. Things like deciding I would program a custom front end for administrating our DNS server or configure a LDAP server or deploy an internal LAMP server for intranet usage. Pretty much all Linux stuff because then I just needed some old servers and free software so there was no issues with costs.

I was very upfront with my manager about what I was doing and he actually appreciated it. Some of those crazy projects turned into valuable utilities that the sysadmins in my company still use. Some turned into nothing useful but it was very educational. In the meantime, I’ve leveraged those technical skills into a series of promotions so it was really a win-win scenario for both me and my employer.

Write a novel

Do it in your source editor so you can tab away from it to what looks like real work.

I never have free-time at work though…

Don’t forget to commit it to CVS periodically.

When I have downtime at work I usually read something developmental and related to my work. Journal articles, books, or even project reports from other team members. If it’s work related you don’t have to worry about being coy about it.

I post on Quartertothree.com’s forums.

I also post on internet forums.

Go into the bathroom and crack one off. After the fourth hour, that might get a little boring, though.

If I have “free time” at work (don’t I wish), I write white papers, add new features to current projects, try to get something published in a journal or conference, and generally go nuts to boost my annual bonus. Think of it as an investment. :)

If I’m feeling especially ambitious, I think of new and creative ways to charge the government for my time and hit that like a red-headed stepchild. This translates into more money for me, so that’s also an investment. Plus, I can pretend I’m a lawyer and try to charge the customer for 25 hours in a day.


Go into the bathroom and crack one off. After the fourth hour, that might get a little boring, though.[/quote]

Or painful.


Go into the bathroom and crack one off. After the fourth hour, that might get a little boring, though.[/quote]

What is the deal with jerking off at work in the tech sector? Every company I’ve worked at in the last 7 years has had at least one person that can’t keep it in their pants until they get home :roll:

Are nerds so deprived of romantic contact that they can’t wai. . . oh, I think I just answered my own question.

I’ve been in EQ guilds with a few people who were sysadmins / nth-tier support people who used to have EQ running all the time while they were at work. They played characters that could solo, so they could drop everything and go and actually work as required, without inconveniencing anyone else.

Depending on how closely supervised you are, and what firewalls etc you are behind, this would be something to while away the hours.

I’d say the core group of the MUSH (RP MUD) community I belong to are sysadmins and the like. The attraction seems to be that alot of these folks are also coders and they can mess around with building areas or designing code in the games they play while they’re at work. One of the big hangouts for these wizards was an OOC MUSH where they talked about various technical problems and bounced ideas that were as much work related as game related.